Support Bristol boat owners to be part of the harbour festival again for free

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Did you know the Bristol Harbour festival was started by boaters in 1971 to petition against the council who wanted to fill in the docks and make Bristol a concrete city?

Resident boat owners would gather together each year and host a weekend long party to encourage the Bristol public to come visit the docks, enjoy the harbour, and prove to the council that the waters are an important part of the city. Gradually after generating interest from the public they succeeded and the council agreed to keep Bristol harbour. Great! To date we have over 250,000 people that attend the event and plenty of local business's benefit.

Now, hundreds of local boat owners (some of which started the festival), that pay all year round to be moored in the harbour they love, are excluded from the event and shipped out to the edges of Bristol by authority of the council harbour master. Some vessels I have interviewed are tied up side by side, with no electric or water supply with owners having to climb over up to 4 boats to get to theirs; forcing some local boat owners not to be involved in the Harbour festival at all. Others have been shuffled about to various parts of the harbour every year since the 90's with little notice on where they are told to go. City centre moorings that are usually taken up by local friendly boat owners are replaced with visitors to the city or in recent years; boat sale companies. Both with extortionate daily mooring rates set by the council for commercial gains. Bristol boat owners can only be included by paying for the privilege of being included.

The festival has changed from what I remember many moons ago; boat owners welcoming the public to the harbour, opening their doors and offering pontoon parties across the docks, BBQ's and lots of laughs, to the council pushing all Bristol boaters out of the harbour in order to make money.

Our councils are supposed to help us, they need to allow the festival to include local boats again for free and remember the reason it was started in the first place. It is the "harbour" festival afterall.

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